Weekly Insights and Inspiration for Flying Higher in Endeavors that Make a Difference
“Have I done something for the common good? Then I share in the benefits. To stay centered on that. Not to give up.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 11.4
The bookstore and library have a Self-Help section, but not a Help-Others section.
Humans are inherently social and collaborative beings. There's an evolutionary imperative for this. In the beginning, we were neither the strongest nor the fastest creature scuttling about the landscape and there were stronger and faster creatures out there eager to turn us into lunch.
It was banding together that enabled us to survive. This led to language which led to the development of our neo-cortex. And this all led us from being frightened furballs hiding in caves to becoming the hairless apes that dominate the planet.
Fast forward to today. We've discovered that living and working with others boosts not just our productivity and success, but our mental, physical, and spiritual health and happiness. There's plenty...
Wicked Conversations tackle Wicked Problems and help lead to Wicked Results.
The use of "Wicked" indicates challenging, interesting, and worth it, not evil or done with malicious intent.
What’s Are Wicked Conversations For?
Wicked Conversations provides an approach for engaging in challenging discussions that lead to a deeper understanding of topics that defy easy resolution and positions you don’t share.
Wicked Conversations tackle difficult subjects with curiosity and courage. In Wicked Conversations attachment to assumptions and agendas melt away and transformation and truth become accessible.
Who Are Wicked Conversations For?
Wicked Conversations are for those who seek to engage in meaningful dialogue that embraces empathy and mutual respect, even when they do not reach consensus or mutual appreciation.
What Promise Is Wicked Conversations Making?
Applying the Wicked Conversation approach to challenging debates...
I listened to a podcast a few days ago during my cemetery run that featured Sam Harris and Dan Dennet arguing about free will. It was an interesting, but ultimately fruitless, exchange.
Are we the masters of our destiny or our lives fated?
The answer is unknowable and even if it was, knowing would be more harmful than helpful.
Either way, each of us has a role to play.
The most helpful and healthy approach to the question of whether our lives are decided by us or by providence is this. Accepting that life doesn’t simply happen to us but through us. This is the path to experiencing more well-being and prosperity in our work, lives, and relationships.
In each and every moment we find ourselves in is the opportunity for us to choose how we frame our circumstance and what we decide to do next. At the very least, we are in charge of these choices.
Stepping forward with thoughtful intention, generous motivation, and an aspiration that is giving and kind is a choice we can...
“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him.” - Viktor Frankl
Work worth doing, concepts worth pondering, talents worth cultivating. These require a desire to embrace challenges and uncertainty with curiosity and courage.
The importance of commitment, dedication, consistency, generosity, and resilience are not unfamiliar to people like us.
But fear of failure is also a constant companion when you’re engaged in endeavors that matter. So are anxiety and Resistance. These forces try to push you to the convenient, the boring, and the dumb through guilt, shame, and a false sense of security. They tempt you to remain humble and hiding.
The good news is that there are workarounds, antidotes, and alternatives to fear, anxiety, and Resistance. These solutions exist in many traditions and disciplines. But I offer these “answers” by ancient Stoic philosophers on how to avoid to the urge or...
Do you spend more time than is healthy focusing on outcomes that are beyond your control? I know I do! Attachment to results that are beyond your determination is not just unhealthy, it's a path to suffering.
In any moment all you really control is how you frame things and what you do next. Whatever the situation or circumstance, you can choose to see the opportunity.
It's likely you will encounter adversity, a complication, or some predicament today. Maybe you already are. How will you face it? Will you wish for things to go your way, or will yourself to find the opportunity?
Keep flying higher!
What do you fear most in the work you do? Is it failure, inadequacy, irrelevance, obscurity, poverty? Perhaps it's "all the above."
Your work is fraught with challenges, uncertainty, and obstacles. So much is beyond your control. But you do control the most essential asset required to thrive in any situation or circumstance. What asset is that?
Your mindset. The way you perceive "the game."
And just three little words can reframe any state of affairs. You can find possibilities within challenges, options within uncertainties, and opportunities within obstacles.
We Are All Creatives
We are born with the capacity for reason, a creative instinct, and a social nature. This combination of characteristics differentiates us from all other living things on the planet. It’s also the source of your limitless power and potential. Potential people like us...
Your life, your work, your year. When you look back at each of these, you can lose sight that they are built from months, days, hours, and minutes.
But it’s in each moment that you have an opportunity to start, or try, or test.
Each juncture provides an opportunity to face obstacles, misfortunes, and challenges with greater clarity and equanimity.
Each instant is a chance for you to succeed or fail, but also to learn, to grow. The opportunity for you to develop yourself.
And the next moment is your next chance to start again, or restart, or quit, or pivot, or change course.
And that’s how every endeavor is built. How each project, your life’s work, and your very life itself is constructed. Goal by goal. Action by action. Result by result.
Accepting what comes and then deciding what to do next.
Living and working moment to moment interrupts the voice of doubt living in your head. The self-critic, the over-planner, and the over-thinker that tries to hijack your...
Connection is a basic human impulse.
Driven by the social imperative that enabled us to survive as a species, it is still our best chance of survival going forward.
When our conversations are driven by curiosity and courage instead of certainty and confidence, we invite collaborations worth cultivating and celebrating.
What will you do to create healthy connections that encourage happiness to spread today?
Keep flying higher!
“All you need are these: certainty of judgment in the present moment, action for the common good in the present moment, and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.” — Marcus Aurelius
I had a fascinating discussion about Stoicism and creativity recently with my friend Chris Gill, Professor Emeritus of Ancient Thought at Exeter University. Chris is a deep thinker, a humble soul, and quiet dispenser of profound wisdom.
During our chat, we discussed acceptance.
As human beings and creative souls, we so often and easily attach ourselves to things beyond our control. Recognition, compensation, the opinions of others. These may appear important. They aren’t. The measure of our worth and that of our craft is reflected in how we approach them and toward what purpose we intend to serve.
We don’t control how we or our work are received. We must accept what comes. Resisting this is a path to suffering.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
Do you seek excellence in the work you do or an endeavor you engage in? How do you "level up" in an enterprise worthy of your time and effort?
It's one of the most profound lessons I learned in Seth Godin's altMBA.
Work we do for others is done better when it's done with others!
I believe in Epictetus' maxim, "Progress is not achieved by luck or accident, but by working on yourself daily." But that "work" is pretty useless if it doesn't also elevate and enhance the lives of others. Toward that end, the advice of Seneca comes in handy. "Associate with those who will make a better person of you."
Find your people. Peers to train with, encourage, and support. Mentors, guides, heroes, and teachers to learn from. In turn, share, teach and train those you serve.
Navel gazing, self-help, and personal development that doesn't serve a greater good are pretty pointless (and a bit...